Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)/Small claims and business


Hi there and thanks in advance for your opinion, which is all I seek.  I have a small service business, had employee that turned into being a criminal, stole from one of my customers (another business). The item taken was anonymously returned, yet it is clear who did it (she stole from me it was revealed later). My employee was the person who was alone in the building during the time the item went missing.  Anyway, my customer did not file a police report even though I encouraged him to do so. When this first came to light,  he asked me and my employee to agree to a polygraph, which we did. He also said he would be fair and test all of his employees too, since there was a remote chance one of them could have taken it. He was very clear he was going to pay out of his own pocket for all the testing.  He also said if item was returned he wouldn't do the testing.  Turns out he wanted polygraph testing anyway, and I went for my test, and passed. My employee never showed and haven't heard from her since.   The customer then asked me to pay for all the polygraph testing and the lock change.  As he owed me $300 from prior work done, I told him to use that to pay for my testing and the lock change, and that would more than cover it.  He insists that since she was my employee I have to pay for the testing of HIS employees as well as their time it took to take the test, which after subtracting what he owed me came to approximate $700  He further stated that if I did not pay, he would pursue litigation and that pain and suffering (?) might be added in.  I offered an extra $100 in exchange to be released from any further real or perceived obligation, which he declined. Well he filed a small claim, and this for the amount of $1980, and his statement does not even state what that number refers to.  Bottom line, even though it was more than likely my ex employee took the item, the item was returned. There are no real "damages".  Also, should I have to pay for his employee testing?  I never agreed to that nor do I think I am liable for that.  After all, he didn't even report this to the police to let them solve it. He made the decision to solve this on his own and pay for whatever methods he deemed appropriate.  Plus, if he was questioning the honesty of his own employees, then that is his problem, certainly not mine.    The initial court date is this coming Wednesday and I really don't want to budge on my position during mediation. It would be great to get the opinion of someone familiar with these types of matters, or even just someone who is a lawyer, like you!   PS. I lost so much money over this thing with this employee I am on the verge of losing my business. She had a little crime spree that weekend It really is horrible! I am pressing charges on the acts she committed against my company.

Hello Pamela,

Before I respond further to your question, I must make clear that I do not represent you, and cannot give you individual particularized legal advice. No attorney client relationship is created by this email. For legal advice, you should hire your own attorney, and follow their advice. My role with AllExperts is limited to providing general information and suggestions for educational or general knowledge purposes. Before you take any action, consult with your own attorney.

Business decisions about the value of relationships with a customer are like settlement decisions in that they are for the client to determine, and not legal decisions to be made by the legal analysis of a lawyer.  While it may be prudent to accommodate your customer, I donít see any contract between the two of you referenced in your remarks that would support a legal obligation for you to comply with the customerís request.

Further, without knowing the rules and law in your state, I canít make any opinion about your options regarding a third party claim against the employee etc.  My suggestion is that you contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction, share not only your recitation of events, but deliver the claim form / complaint against you, and obtain some particular legal advice not only about this case, but about how to protect your business in future should you be unfortunate again.

I hope this helps, good luck to you.

Morgan Smith
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Conciliation Court * Civil Litigation * Forfeitures * Construction * Family Law

Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)

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Morgan Smith


Civil litigation (contract claims, landlord-tenant actions, forfeiture suits, residential construction defect matters), Family law (divorce, custody modifications, child support modifications, and pre-nuptial agreement), new business start-ups, civil forfeiture, asset forfeiture. Please do not submit your question as Private. It is my policy not to answer Private questions from members of the public here on AllExperts; I reserve that function to my private clients. Although AllExperts permits me to change your questions from Private to Public, it is my policy not to do that. I encourage you to resubmit your question as a public question. Your public question has the potential to help others with similar concerns. I suggest that you use a pretend name and otherwise alter sensitive facts that make you inclined to treat your question as Private, and submit your question to me Publicly.


I've been practicing law in the State of Minnesota since 1995. I've worked in skyscraper firms, and now my own small firm in Minneapolis. Past answers from my earlier participation on AllExperts is posted at:

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J.D. William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, MN

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